Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In or Out?

At first blush, you wouldn't necessarily think there was much difference between an indoor craft show and an outdoor one ... and to some degree, you'd be right.  You have to have a reasonable stock of merchandise to sell, a way to display it, the usual supplies of business cards, gift bags and ready change.  But each type of show also brings it's own unique set of concerns.

Obviously, at an outdoor show, the biggest concern is weather -- wind or rain can really put a damper on the show.  Since most organizers make no guarantee for beautiful weather, your profits are a bit more at risk when applying for an outdoor show.  When you attend an outdoor show, you'll see that most vendors have some sort of canopy -- it gives shade on sunny days and protection from rain should a sudden storm blow up.  Some vendors use sides on their canopies.. I don't.  I only do a handful of outdoor shows in a year and didn't want to make the extra investment in sides (at least, not yet).  I also find that the sided ones have less air circulation, which can be stifling in hot, humid weather.  My overall set up is fairly easy to move to one side or the other if a sudden storm pops up and our rack is designed to hold up to windy conditions.  We did have to develop displays that are unaffected by a breeze, including business card holders, and the little extra props I use to decorate with.  And frankly, if the weather is too nasty, nobody is going to attend -- so trying to manage the worst weather situations is unnecessary -- I'll go home.  The upside to outdoor shows is that, as an artist using crystals, the natural light is phenomenal!  At one show, the vendors were in a park in the shape of a giant oval -- as the afternoon wore on and the sun got lower, it made my crystals sparkle!  One lady, shopping on the opposite end of the oval, caught sight of my jewelry and hurried across the oval to shop with me -- she had seen my jewelry shining from 400 feet away ... and couldn't WAIT to see what I was selling! 

So, indoor shows would seem to be ideal, right?  Not always.  While you may not be faced with wind or rain issues, those factors can still affect attendance -- who wants to get up on Saturday morning and trudge out in the cold damp rain (or snow) when they can lay around home in their jammies and drink coffee?  Indoor shows can also be a lighting challenge -- they usually have commercial or industrial lighting that may affect the appearance of your items.   Our perceptions of colors can be significantly altered in such lighting -- and with something as sensitive as crystals, it can be an extra challenge.   We have started using a string of puck lights that we can strategically place behind and below most of my earrings -- they help to keep the true color of the crystals and give them a little extra shine visible from the front of our displays.  Because indoor shows are often in large areas with concrete walls and floors, they can also be louder environments -- less "soft" to absorb sound in a  confined area makes more echo.  And someone may be playing music -- if you're the one near a speaker, it can make communication with customers a bit more difficult.   One upside (if you need it) is that some indoor shows will provide a table for your display and a chair or two for your booth -- outdoor shows rarely offer these.  And it's great for craft show newbies just starting out -- who are usually making quite an investment in supplies to have enough product -- nice not to have to invest in tables and chairs too.

So as you can see, each type of craft show venue has it's own unique issues -- the key is to plan ahead and be prepared.


Julie Riisnaes said...

I agree. I've been there indoors and out when I used to make jewellery.

I never really got on with craft fairs though I enjoyed the buzz. People used to come and admire enthusiastically but not buy very often. I couldn't really complain because thats exactly what I do when I go to craft fairs don't you? I might buy the odd thing but mostly I admire and enjoy them all as artforms!

Well those of you who manage to make it out there have my respect!

Lavon said...

Wonderful comparison of "In vs Out"...there are certainly things to consider for both venues. Good job!

cksilver said...

Great article! I am looking for ideas, and am considering doing shows and/or jewelry parties. Have you ever done jewelry parties?